Notes: If you're looking for a vehicle with one of the most complained about transmission on the road, look no further than the 2001-2003 Toyota RAV4.

In 2001 Toyota completely redesigned the popular SUV. While some enjoyed the new look, they did not enjoy the harsh shifting, jumping from gear-to-gear and eventual transmission failure that cost owners well over $3,000 to fix. The problem stems from a malfunctioning Electronic Control Module (ECM).

Consumer outrage coupled with pressure from different agencies led Toyota to extend the warranty nationwide back in 2010. The previous power train warranty only covered 5 years/60,000 miles, while the extended warranty now covers the transmission and ECM for 10 years/150,000 miles. Toyota also pledged to reimburse any owners who had previously paid for repairs, if they had "proper proof". Good luck collecting on that one.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
0 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Toyota RAV4 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Toyota RAV4 Owner Comments

problem #1

Feb 122005

RAV4 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


In the last week after some heavy rains in san diego, ca, I noticed that the front floor boards on both sides of my 2003 rav 4 were very wet. There wasn't any water on the ground, the seats nor were the windows or moon roof left open. When the car was going around a curve, there was a swooshing sound of running water somewhere under the dashboard (it sounded like). I purchased the vehicle in Nov 2002 brand new with an extended warranty. I currently have 52,000 miles on the car. I have not had any previous problems. I called several Toyota car dealerships about what it could possibly be and no one has ever seen this. I have never experienced this with any car whether old or new since 1966 nor have I heard of anyone having a problem like this. I took my car to the dealership where it was purchased and told that this was not covered by warranty. I stated this was not a normal problem of wear and tear, otherwise mechanics would be very familiar with this and be able to diagnose it without difficulty. I was told that my carpeting was totally ruined (its moldy) and all of it has to be replaced. I am asthmatic and very allergic to mold, therefore its a health hazard. Since this was not caused by my negligence, nor is it a part that is expected to wear with normal use if ever, I do not feel that I should have to pay hundreds of dollars for parts and labor, even more so that the mechanics are having a difficult time finding the source. This part or parts are defective. The dealership stated that they will try to speak with the factory to get some assistance but at this point its unknown. There has been proper maintenance on the car as required and the car has not been in any accidents.

- Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USA

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